Life in the fast lane Published May 1, 2008 By Senior Airman Nestor Cruz 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The air was filled with the sound of race cars revving up their engines as the young racers eyed each other, sizing up the competition. Lights blinked from amber to green, signaling the start of the race. Three ... two ... one ... GO! The racing drama which normally plays out at places like Daytona, Fla., took place April 27 at an unexpected location: the Okinawa City Children's Zoo. More than 50 American and Okinawan children gathered to participate in a miniature 4x4 race car building workshop. This was the second workshop held for the children but the first time Americans were invited to attend. "This is a great activity for our children to overcome the language barrier," said Kaori Shimabukuro, 18th Wing Public Affairs community relations specialist. "We saw the workshop as an opportunity for American and Okinawan children to break the ice and come together under the common interest of building and racing toy cars." The workshop is a part of the Kid's Engineer Project at the Okinawa City Children's Zoo, said Rimi Suzuki, Wonder Museum operations project officer. "Through the Kid's Engineer Project, we aim to provide children with hands-on activities and exchange opportunities," said Ms. Suzuki. "By attending the workshop, children can experience the joy of making things and meeting people." During the workshop, children learned to build the battery-powered mini race cars. Experienced car builders had the opportunity to participate in an electronic craft class which taught the children to use a soldering iron to attach flashing lights to their cars. "I've always wanted to build cars like these," said Rachel Hyman, 6, daughter of Eli and Terry Hyman, Department of Defense Education Activity, Torii Station, who opted to build a regular car. "The car was easy to build and I'm really excited to race today." Children also painted and customized their cars with decals and paint markers. The young racers then went on a test drive on a mini race track before taking on the main racing tournament. Awards were given to the top three finishers and an additional prize was given for best design. "I'm glad I came out for this," said Rachel. "I'll go again if they have another workshop like this."